NICOSIA, Cyprus – A document outlining a collective vision on security in Cyprus is to be drawn up to help improve chances of a breakthrough in reunifying the east Mediterranean island nation, a government spokesman said Tuesday.
Nicos Christodoulides said representatives from both sides of Cyprus' ethnic divide will help draft a document outlining a "joint goal" on how to safeguard peace after reunification. The island's so-called guarantor powers, Greece, Turkey and Britain will also be involved.
Officials said two years of talks have brought a peace deal to reunify Cyprus as a federation closer than ever before. But the two sides remain at odds on a number of key issues, with security at the top of the list.
Greek Cypriots want the 35,000 troops that Turkey has stationed in Cyprus' breakaway north withdrawn because they see them as a threat and incompatible with the island's European Union member status.
The island's Greek Cypriot president, Nicos Anastasiades, has proposed an international police force to keep the peace. Turkey and the minority Turkish Cypriots, however, want a number of troops to remain as security overseers.
The tiny island of around 1.1 million people was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence.
Christodoulides said the security roadmap could boost chances for a successful outcome at a summit in Geneva expected later this month.
United Nations envoy Espen Barth Eide said Monday that any security structure has to conform to present-day realities rather than the politics of 1960 when Cyprus gained independence from colonial ruler Britain.
The Norwegian official said "ideas" about a new security model which have been informally shared with all participants involve "mutual assurances and some kind of international oversight" by the U.N. or other international bodies on the implementation of a peace deal.
Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed.